Hollywood icon Doris Day dies, aged 97

Doris Day was born in Cincinnati, Ohio as Doris Mary Ann Kappelhoff (Photo: Getty Images)
Doris Day was born in Cincinnati, Ohio as Doris Mary Ann Kappelhoff (Photo: Getty Images)

Hollywood star Doris Day, an icon of early post-war cinema and one of the biggest female stars of all time, has died aged 97.

The Doris Day Animal Foundation confirmed Day died on Monday (13 May) at her home in California.

The foundation stated she was surrounded by close friends and “had been in excellent physical health for her age, until recently contracting a serious case of pneumonia.”

The actress rose to fame and worldwide acclaim in films such as Calamity Jane and Pillow Talk.

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    Known for her impressive singing voice and wholesome image, she had a hit with Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be), making it to number two in the charts in 1956.

    Early dreams of becoming a dancer

    Day was born in Cincinnati, Ohio as Doris Mary Ann Kappelhoff, changing her surname toDay in 1939.

    In her early years she was a keen dancer before a serious car accident injured her right leg. During her recovery, she said she learned to sing by listening to Ella Fitzgerald on the radio and trying to “catch the subtle ways she shaded her voice, the casual yet clean way she sang the words.”

    Day began her career as a big band singer before moving into the world of film in the 1948 production, Romance on the High Seas.

    Primarily playing characters in musical comedies, Day broadened her range in the 1950s, with films such as Love Me or Leave Me and The Man Who Knew Too Much.

    The latter, in which she starred alongside James Stewart, saw her perform Que Sera, Sera which won an Oscar for Best Original Song.


    Her box office success came in the 1960s when she starred in several romantic comedies, including Pillow Talk (1959) alongside Rock Hudson and Move Over, Darling (1963), alongside James Garner.

    During this period Day was considered the most popular female star in film, but never won an Oscar, only being nominated once for Pillow Talk.

    The rest of her career was spent in TV, before Day began to spend less time in the public eye. She gave only a handful of interviews in the years between her effective retirement from public life and her death.

    Day was married four times and was a fierce animal welfare activist, campaigning against the wearing of fur and animal cruelty.

    Her last album, My Heart, went to number one in the UK in 2011.